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Niraj Sharma ’03, MBA ’06 helped raise money for his fellow Nepali after the 2015 earthquake

Niraj Sharma ’03, MBA ’06 helped raise money for his fellow Nepali after the 2015 earthquake

On the quiet morning of April 25, 2015, the small country of Nepal, nestled in the Himalayan Mountains, was awakened by the jolt of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The quake killed more than 8,500 people and injured more than 22,000. It triggered an avalanche on nearby Mount Everest.

This was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since 1934. The earthquake left people without homes and in desperate need of food and clean water.

The devastation was broadcast around the world. Watching from afar was Niraj Sharma ’03, MBA ’06, a native of Kathmandu, Nepal’s gateway to tourism.

Sharma could understand not only the photos he was seeing but also the language and cries of the Nepalese people. He also knows that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia.

“It had a really profound effect on me,” said Sharma. He decided he needed to become involved.

Sharma knew he would be a hindrance if he went to Nepal, so he made the decision to help from the United States. He started a GoFundMe initiative, a fundraiser that allowed people to donate money to the people of Nepal.

“About 95 percent of the donations we collected came from the Otterbein community,” said Sharma, who now works as the director of technology infrastructure for his alma mater. “It just shows how much the Otterbein network cares, not just locally, but to a small country half-way around the world.”

Thus far, Sharma’s efforts, as well as those of Assistant Professor of Religion Geoff Barstow, have raised more than $8,000. Barstow’s backyard cookout raised about $1,800 alone. All the money has been used to buy or send supplies and cash to Nepal.

“A little bit can go a long way,” said Sharma.

Sharma is no stranger to volunteering or lending a helping hand. In fact, he is a firm believer in returning the favor.

“Community service is an important part of my life,” said Sharma.

He plans to go to Nepal in early 2016 to help further. Sharma’s advice is to encourage people to give back, get involved and volunteer somewhere. He urges that the time is now. 

Read other alumni stories and discover more 'hidden lives' of Otterbein in the latest issue of Towers Magazine.